Somewhere in the Midwest

Somewhere in the Midwest...

It's been a month since I last saw the light of freedom, much less slept in my own bed, or had a decent meal. I'm on the run with Salman Rushdie: He, under a death threat from Islamic fundamentalists who took issue with his book, The Satanic Verses, and me, on the run from those who didn't like my last column, the really humorous piece about my cousin Clem's first visit to a Catholic church.

My readers were quite firm in their denunciations. (See "Postmark," (October 1992). On second thought, DON'T SEE "Postmark.") So I thought it best to lie low for a while.

I first met Salman in a little one-horse town in Indiana. He was hiding behind the horse at the time, but I recognized the Groucho Marx glasses that he was wearing. Salman had on a pair, too.

Seeing another in such a fitful state as I, one who shared my fears and understood my despair, was almost an epiphany for me. Only I'm not allowed to use words from the official church calendar anymore. It's part of my punishment. I've got to spend the entire next year in ordinary time.

We tearfully compared notes of our common life on the run and said our goodbyes to the horse--who, it turned out, was also in hiding after accidentally wandering into a tent revival service. He was mistaken for a Democrat and forcibly driven off by evangelicals.

It's not been easy, these past few weeks. Salman and me sleeping by day, traveling by night in open boxcars, smoking old stogies we have found...you know...short, but not too big around. Eating handouts from kindly Protestants and finding work where we can: washing dishes, sweeping floors, editing scholarly journals.

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Sojourners Magazine October 1992
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